The executive sponsor is the most critical role that needs to be identified before performing any change activities. Your sponsor will be the name and face associated with the change, and will be the key component of whether the change is successfully implemented. The sponsor will be the person who will provide guidance in developing the change team, act as the escalation point as issues arise, keep the momentum going through garnering excitement and celebrating the successes, and will ultimately be called upon to make critical (up to employment-related decisions) when active resistance is encountered.
4 questions to ask when assessing candidates to become your executive sponsor:
- How committed are they to the change?
- Are they willing to send communications and visibly demonstrate their dedication to the change?
- Will they fund (or help obtain funding), as needed, to support the change?
- Will they chair a steering committee of peers to gain additional executive support for the change (and ensure you are not a lone voice of change in a sea of passivity or resistance)?
If an executive sponsor is missing from your change initiative, STOP NOW! Without strong sponsorship, you will only frustrate people and not successfully deploy the change.
It is also important to ask whether the executive you identify has ever acted as a change sponsor before – if not, you may need to train your sponsor to ensure the person is prepared for their role in ensuring the change takes hold.